IBM scientists have created a prototype optical chipset that they called the Holey Optochip. The chip is the first parallel optical transceiver to hit one terabit of information per second. IBM says that’s like downloading 500 high-definition movies in a single second. The Optochip is eight times faster than the parallel optical components we have today.
The scientists at IBM created the chip by fabricating 48 holes through a standard CMOS silicon chip. Those 48 holes allow optical access to the back of the chip to 24 receiver and 24 transmitter channels. Those holes are responsible for the blazing speed the chip is capable of. The transceiver uses less than 5W of power making it very power efficient and green.
The Optochip is being eyed for use in optical networking gear of the future. IBM says that the chip illustrates that high speed and low power interconnects with optical chips are the only transmission medium that is able stay ahead of the booming demand for broadband connectivity. The chip is expected to find its way in the future data and cloud computing applications. 48 holes punched in the chip are also called optical vias and there’s one hole for each transmitter and receiver channel. The transceiver chip measures 5.2 mm x 5.8 mm and the Optochip uses an industry-standard 850-nm vertical cavity surface emitting laser that is directly flip-chip soldered.